tv Legalising Weed BBC News August 18, 2019 12:30am-1:01am BST
this is bbc news. the headlines: there's been an explosion at a wedding reception in the afghan capital, kabul. dozens of people are reported to have been killed. eyewitnesses say the blast was caused by a suicide bomber inside the packed hall. no—one has admitted carrying out the attack and helmets have held a rally in the western us city of portland, while anti—fascist protestors demonstrated against them. a line of police separated the two sides and no significant clashes have been reported. sudan's ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance have signed a landmark power—sharing deal. the agreement ushers in a new governing council, including both civilians and generals, to pave the way towards elections and civilian rule. and you can get more on our website. now on bbc news, canada's
legalised cannabis, but could britain do the same? in this special documentary, three mps go on a trip to canada to find out how legalising the drug has worked. and a warning — this programme contains adult themes. you could go to prison for a very long time in britain if you've got anything like this. there's been a big shift in attitudes to cannabis in the past few years. our current laws are a disaster. you might remember billy caldwell. his mum fought for him to get access to cannabis oil to help with his severe epilepsy. at every single stage of this campaign, we have mentioned making history. billy's case led to a big change at the end of 2018. medicinal cannabis products can now be legally prescribed to some patients across the uk for the first time. globally, where that's happened, it's often not been long before recreational use of the drug has followed. take, for example, canada. it legalised cannabis in october last year, the first major western country that's good weed. with cannabis the uk's most popular illegal drug, a group of british mps and charities
have come to canada to see what some call the world's biggest drugs experiment. have you ever seen this volume of cannabis yourself? i never saw any volume of cannabis! so, should the uk follow suit? in a couple of weeks, we're going to be following a first of its kind — three mps from across the political spectrum, heading to canada to see how legalising cannabis has worked out. but, first, i want to find out where they stand. starting here in north london with the tottenham mp, david lammy... ..not a man shy of having a strong opinion or two. the problem is in a constituency like mine, there's a brutal unfairness in the way that black they're stopped and searched. often when you go right back to the beginning of that conversation, of that young person who picked up that knife,
or that young person who gets caught handling drugs, the first contact was marijuana use in their teens. so that's his view. can i go to westminster, please? but what about the other two mps? right, well, this building just here on the right is the home office. that's where uk drug laws are made. and we've done repeated stories when it comes to cannabis regulation, and they tell us repeatedly that there is no chance of changing the law when it comes to recreational drug use. that means that if you're caught with some cannabis, you could go to prison for five years. hello, good to see you. how are you doing? good to see you. first up, sir norman lamb the only major uk political party to back legalising cannabis. i think, at the moment, we don't protect young people well. people have no idea what they're buying on the street, it could be very potent strains which is associated with risks to your mental health. and to regulate and legalise
the market so we can control potency seems to me to be much more sensible. which is obviously what they want to do, or what they are doing in canada. why is it you want to go is itjust to see what you can learn from it? i want to see what the teething problems are, what we can learn from their mistakes, and what they've done right, so that it can inform our approach in this country. but i really want to see it for myself, rather than just hear from others. the final mp on the trip is jonathan djanogly from the conservatives. he describes himself as an open book when it comes to drug policy. in my own constituency, in the last year, more young people smoked cannabis than they did tobacco. and so, people seem to be voting with their feet, and that says to me that i've got to take an interest in this. do you think you could be is a better way of doing it, or a different way of doing it than we do here? yes, i certainly go in to this with an open mind, both in terms of legalisation and regulation.
so, we'll catch up with the three of them pretty soon. during the film, you're likely to hear a couple of phrases that are often mentioned when you discuss cannabis, and they are thc and cbd. it's quite important to understand what they are, and it's definitely going to be important for those mps to understand it, too. thc is the thing in cannabis, that gets you high. whereas cbd is the thing that counteracts some of the negative effects that thc can often have on the body. and some people say that cbd is good for things like sleep disorders, anxiety and some pain symptoms. so, with that cleared up, let's head a bit early to canada, and see how things are over there. vancouver, to be exact. people here proudly call this the weed capital of the country. i'm going to be shown around by piper. hi. hey, jim, how are you? nice to meet you, how are you doing?
right, first up then...you've got one of the weirdestjob titles i've ever heard of. best job title. go on, then — what is it? yeah, cannabis editor for the georgia street newspaper. which is an alternative magazine? it is. it's a long—standing independent newspaper here in vancouver. it's been operating for about 50 from arts and music, to politics and news and, of course, weed. and the fact you have that job title, and there is so much written about it, cannabis is in vancouver, i suppose? yeah, absolutely. it's certainly not something i had planned for when studying journalism back in university. but because of the shifts that politically, agriculturally, economically, you know, there is a big demand for this news, and it is certainly something that requires your full attention as a journalist. so it's great that i can actually cover it and use my full attention to do itjustice, hopefully. piper's offered to take us to a shop that sells cannabis. and if you're into weed, they were one of the greater stores after legalisation.
proudly set on the little sign here. yeah, they've got it on a sign there's a couple of others. this place used to be run illegally, with authorities turning a bit of a blind eye. but it's now moved into being fully legal and that means some big changes. one of the major differences present cannabis now. so, they're in smell—proof containers, but you can't actually access the product. right. it's not to be handled but they have these nifty containers now where you can actually pop up the top and smell them. jim, this is mike babins, he is the founder and owner of the store here. how are you doing? good. how has the process been? it's been... ..crazy. basically, everything has changed. i used to have a lot of funjust selling weed to people, and now i spend most right. so, it's more regulation? a lot. stores like mike's have been able to legally sell cannabis as well as pre—rolled joints, oils and capsules since october 2018. but there are still some products that aren't currently available legally,
including edibles, extracts and creams. around half the weed here is still bought on the black market. this is craig ex. hi. nice to meet you. piper has brought us to meet a guy who calls himself craig ex, or expertjoints. he runs a media company that specialises in... ..you guessed it — weed. they do a weekly livestream studio and a website. craig and piper are going to show me one of the other ways to buy weed. what they're about to do is illegal. ..some pot cheetos. you like cheetos? i will not, obviously, as the guy from the bbc... i will not be consuming any of your pot cheetos. but you order what you want to buy. but, in general, i like cheetos. cheetos, in general, ok, with or without pot. let's do a little bit if you've ever used deliveroo or uber eats or something similar, the ordering process here will look really familiar. just like that, you just click on there and...? just like that. does that make it feel very normal?
is that a bit of a danger? yes. and so, naturally, companies and go, "here are the access points, and we'll make it easier "for our customers that are already "because they can't get it at legal dispensaries." we only had to wait around delivery to arrive. doorbell rings 0h! and that sound of the it's suddenly there. yeah, so i guess we'll be seeing them in a minute. one of the other things that people have talked about as well, is level of packaging as well, hey. hello. passport 20 here, got a delivery for you. fantastic. could i see some id first, please? yeah, yeah, yeah... there you go. awesome. thank you. thank you very much. you brought the product. i have the goods. in a brown paper bag. amazing! if that is notjust iconic of black so, right, let's have a look through this. it comes in a classic brown paper bag. we have smellproof packaging
on the inside here. and, as you can see, we have... these are pot cheetos infused with a sativa cannabis, some flour there. and then this is another product that has not yet been included in the legal framework. infused moisturiser or balm. it's... let's see. that's got all sorts of smell, compared to what you just smelled. right? yeah, that's very strong. it's very, very strong. it's a nice consistency. actually, the real telltale sign of quality cannabis is... ..comes from consuming it. right. and i think the best way to tell if this is quality cannabis is if i consume some of it. yeah. it's good weed. is it heavy? mm—hm.
yeah... it's certainly better than. . . better than the legal product i've tried so far, is bad, and not to say that because it's definitely but i would say the best cannabis i've had so far are from sources like this, where they genuinely care about breeding and growing vancouver is seen as a bit but we're going to leave it behind for now. so this is toronto. we arrived late last night. and, already, you can sense that this is a very different city to vancouver. it feels really massive, like a classic north american city. and we're here to meet those three mps that we met back in the uk. the first day of the trip is all about mps hearing from the police and fellow politicians here. as they listen on, you can't help about a huge experiment when it comes to drug policy. my position as a
..regulate it, control it, tax it. you can't come all the way and sit in a conference room and be talked at. you need to see it first hand. the tour, so far, has been a lot of talks, it's been a lot of experts, economists coming along, trying to persuade the people in the group that this is the way that we should do well, now, things have got a bit more interesting, i suppose, because they've come out to see how it's done out here in real life. this is the first stop on the tour. this is a shop — selling cannabis, and it's probably the first chance the mps and the rest of the group have had of seeing how things are done over here. the first thing that surprised me is how clean and well—kept it is. they are very highly regulated, i've just been talking to them. and i wasn't expecting this... ..one of the mps in the group which do you tend to use? i've done this one. the difference between what norman is buying here and the cbd oils you can buy in shops in the uk... well, this oil contains thc —
as someone who was central the first party to back legalisation, he wants to know how it will affect him. thank you very much. so, norman, talk us through what you purchased. so, erm... this is a small amount and... ..having never used this before — knowingly — i mentioned there was possibly one accidental occasion. i want to be very careful. i'm very cautious. and i'm, sort of, quite hostile about drugs generally. i mean, that's where i come from as a parent. but i want this purely for sleeping, arm, for relaxation. so... ..i've been told to take half the normal dose to start with, which i will take 45 minutes before going to bed tonight and for the flight home. but i can't take this back home
because it's illegal in england. the trip‘s been organised by a london—based campaign group, volteface. it wants the uk to legalise weed. it's part funded by a big cannabis company here in north america called mpx. they've paid for most of the people to be here. but, like us, david and norman which is your most popular? this would be...probably our right. and looking at the sort of thc levels in all of this, that's the strongest? yes. low cbd? yes. and that's what people are after? yes. they like to get a bunch, you know, yes. that's what they're they like that 5—star, so they want to get the highest they can get. interesting. after seeing a couple the final stop for the mps is a big commercial cannabis growing operation, a couple of hours' drive out of toronto. first up — a change of clothes. i've got no hair. do i still need this on my head?
after the rigmarole of getting changed, passing through some really strict security... ..the first thing that hits you is the smell. you can see that they're all bar—coded. and then...just the size of the operation. what's the value of this? this one here? it's also really loud in here because of all the ventilation fans. but what they told us is the weed to 300,000 canadian dollars. that's over £180,000. and they can do five crops a year, close to £1 million a year. what do you make of it? i think you could go to prison if you've got anything like this in your loft. so it's, erm... ..a slightly strange feeling. you look at the plant, you know it's marijuana... ..and, obviously, everything in your head is saying, "this is wrong. get me out of here, i'm
you know? yeah. there does not appear to be the same level of debate about psychosis as there is in the uk, and i haven't fully understood why that is. i mean, they do say to us that if it's grown in very safe conditions, you have no impurities, it's a safer product. and, of course, the labelling makes you exactly aware of what you are buying — of on the street. and that's, i think, a real benefit from legalisation. i'm really worried at the... ..amount of seriously exactly. ..that young people are consuming. and some of them, it's issues and psychosis. so, here, you see proper labelling, erm, you're usually able to talk to someone who is quite informed
about thc levels and cbd levels. i would, if we introduced a regulated market in the uk, have a cap on potency. i think you should start there. i think it reassures the public, people know that what they're buying is safe. before we head back to toronto, i want to speak to scott — the boss of mpx, which owns the facility — to find out why a north american company would invest so much money trying to persuade british mps to do the same back home. do you want to see change in the uk, and is it right that you're interfering in the uk's laws? we've been happy to be a host to them, to give them some exposure to the business, of what's happening if that helps make the right decisions in the united kingdom, it's money well—spent for us. and, potentially, money wellspent for your shareholders who might make a lot of money? and if we can get a... look, the guy that makes an mri the doctor that performs
surgery makes money. to say we don't have a profit motive we're in business to make money, but we're also in business to help the industry grow and to protect people. you want to see legalisation in the uk. yes. what one lesson could the uk take from how canada's done it? the one lesson they can do is look at the mistakes that the canadian government made, and not repeat them. the approach, initially, was too conservative. we overkilled in terms of regulation. now that's backing off a little bit, the government realises it's made some mistakes. the industry will correct itself. the industry has always been there. it's just, who knows what you've cannabis on the street. quite nervous. yeah? that's because he's about to take the cannabis oil he bought earlier. so, i'm just interested to try it. itjust seemed, you know, ridiculous if i'm here... yeah. ..i might as well do something that's within the law that might help me sleeping. right. even though i won't be able to use it back at home. yeah. so, now i'm supposed
to put it under my tongue. norman. all right? hello. so, first question's got to be... ..did you sleep better last night? quite hard tojudge, because i've been falling asleep very quickly here anyway, erm.. and i did yesterday, and got straight to sleep, and felt that i'd slept deeply. but, you know, if anything — no great, dramatic impact. certainly no strange sensations, which is what i was, sort of — rather naively but, er, there was nothing has changed my view. well, we said goodbye to the british mps, and we're now heading to meet a canadian mp, who is actually really central to the story of how
canada legalised cannabis. his name is bill blair, he's a former police chief from this town. and he was tasked byjustin trudeau, the prime minister, with getting behind the system, getting behind the law, and getting behind the big change that happened here. hi there, nice to meet you. nice to meet you, as well. thanks for giving us a few minutes of your time. happy to. are you happy with how the legalisation process has gone? i will tell you i've been very pleased. at times, quite pleasantly surprised at how smooth the implementation has been. and if you were to give this how successful on a sort of a, statistics canada now says about 47% in this country has been purchased from legal, regulated, licensed sources. that's a real sign of real progress. and so... ..erm, we've not done the job. this is an interim grade. but, quite frankly, right now, i feel that we're on track. i'd, sort of, give it
a b, perhaps even a b+. we are still in the midst of the process of displacing that illicit market. right. it's important to look at this as a process, it's a pretty significant public the process of implementation but i will also tell you, on october 17th of 2018... ..we didn't throw a switch, except on one thing. on that day, we stopped generation of young canadians, and i think that's a very good thing. speaking to the likes of him, legalisation has gone but let's be honest, that's way too simplistic. before heading home, i've come back to vancouver. the weed market here is much more developed than everywhere else we've seen. so far, we've spent a lot of time drug experiment that both the government and the legal cannabis industry wants us to see. but that's not the whole picture. around half the weed sold and what's sold in legal stores is widely criticised for its quality and price.
so, do you want to give the guy see if he's around? yeah. to talk us through this — charlotte, a brit who works as a consultant in the cannabis industry. she's offered to introduce us to the owner of an unlicensed shop. over here, they call this the grey area, unlicensed cannabis being sold in shops that certainly don't hide back home, wejust call this illegal. many like this one have operated for years. but on the way today, are actively clamping down ..so we're not even sure if it's going to be open. it'sjim from the bbc, how are you doing? how's things? yeah, yeah. come on in. it seems quite chaotic down here today? well, yeah. the government has a court order to have us shut down. the reason why is, er, they feel that we're outside the law. tell me, what's going on here today? i've watched you turn away three or four people who have come in expecting... this guy.
ithink... no? it's all right. he wants to come in but you can't... we can't... well, he can come in, but we don't have any product here. we pulled it all off the shelves. they're threatening us with two years in prison. you know, again, the prices in the government stores are double. taxes are huge on this. massive. charlotte ? yep. being in here as he's turning people away, sending them away, regular customers getting sent away because this place is being closed down... yeah. it all feels really chaotic. yeah. it's hard then to say the uk should follow this, because this is chaos, isn't it? absolutely. well, it's obviously slightly different in the uk because we don't have so many established dispensaries operating already, but, clearly, what this shows is that the government probably isn't the best person to be operating retail stores. and that you shouldn't be closing down stores when there isn't enough legal supply to service the market. you shouldn't be closing down industries when there's not enough legal stores in vancouver. and, also, we should be making sure that government regulations, government taxes aren't so high
that it makes the entire system unworkable. hey, carol? yeah? several people have been trying to walk... they walked right past here and... thank you. 0k. right. and with that chaotic end, it's time to leave canada. the mps have had a bit of time to digest what they saw, so i'm heading back to westminster to see what they made of it. do you think cannabis should be legalised like it is in canada? from what i've learnt so far, i'm not convinced that we have the research or the knowledge about how to... ..replace the criminality that currently goes with it. and i think we've got a lot to learn before we move towards legalisation of recreational cannabis, which i think will happen at some point, given that we have already legalised medical cannabis. the logic makes absolute sense that to regulate and control is so much better than to leave in the hands of criminals. david — on the trip,
i always got the sense that you were moving more towards norman's position. have you moved to norman's position? where do you stand now on the legalisation of cannabis? i think i probably broadly agree with norman. i mean, i was... so, to legalise? yes. i mean, i was always of the view that it is insane to be criminalising as many young people as we are. prohibition isn't working. so, what i saw in canada... it was the early stages of their experiment, but it's absolutely the direction we should be going in. once you're saying it's ok for medicinal use, you are on a pipeline — that's absolutely patently obvious. let's do it properly, considered, but let's have a proper cross—party commission look at the evidence, look at the facts, and do it in a way that works for our country. with products like this on sale in here, you might think that
we're back in canada. but we're actually a short walk away from parliament. the big difference here is, this shop can't sell cannabis. but is that about to change? well... ..if so — there are a lot of questions to get through. for example, how do you police drug driving? why is so much of the cannabis available in canada so strong, especially with those links that we keep talking about to mental health issues? and will big business continue to take over? or is there room in the market for some of those original players in the scene that we met? and, ultimately, remember... ..canada came from very different starting position. they already had a grey area in the law for the drug. and, culturally, it'sjust much more part of everyday life. i keep calling this the world's biggest drugs experiment... ..the reality is, the final results are a long way off.
showers will continue to feature in the weather forecast over the next few days. scotland, northern ireland and the far north of england because we are closest to low pressure just here. southwards we have a weather front that looks set to bring cloudy skies to southern england and we could find rain across southern coastal cou nts could find rain across southern coastal counts of england. at the same time over the next few hours we should see more showers working into wales and south—west england. it's a breezy but a relatively mild start to sunday. through the rest of sunday the rain will clear away
quickly but spread eastwards. nowhere is immune from seeing an odd, heavy downpour but through sunday the majority of showers will be working across scotland, across northern ireland, into the north of england and north wales as well. turning cool in the north, temperatures not too bad in the south. that's your weather.
this is bbc news — i'm reged ahmad. our top stories... warnings of shortages of fuel, food and medicine if britain leaves the eu without a deal — a leaked government report sets out the aftershocks of a no—deal brexit. a suicide bomber targets a wedding reception in kabul — officials say a number of people have been killed and injured. hundreds of far—right supporters hold a rally in the us city of portland as police try to keep them away from anti—fascist protesters. women protest in mexico city after a number of high—profile alleged sexual assaults involving police officers sparked